Pat Montandon invited me to a Christmas Party that she threw for about 200 friends (or more) at the Marines Memorial Club back in the 70s.
Her parties had the most interesting people in attendance. Well, of course, I was there! I knew three people as acquaintances, otherwise I was on my own to mix and mingle. One of the persons I knew was the Santa Cruz Symphony conductor whose name is lost to the recesses of my memory.I don’t recall many of the people there, but I do remember meeting and speaking with Diane Feinstein and observing that she was petit and pretty.
I didn’t have quite the same problem getting to this party as I did to the first party in Pat’s pent house on Russian Hill. In fact I was so early that I spent some time across the street in an art gallery. I had a feeling the salesman could tell I probably wouldn’t be buying a $1,000 painting that day; and that was not expensive compared to others in the gallery.
Limousines began arriving and it was time to walk across the street for the party was about to begin.
The second Christmas party, held at the St. Frances Yacht Club, had important names of people I can better remember. This was the party I crashed. Well, not really, for I got my nerve up and called Pat, asking if I was invited, that I didn’t get the invitation. She said the party had gotten so big that names had to be dropped, but I certainly could attend. She told me the youngster who picked up the phone when I called was her son.
Looking back on what I did clearly isn’t something I’d do today. I’ve grown up socially. But the gracious person she was/is, treated me very kindly, and placed me at a table with the usual interesting folks.
She introduced every single person at every table and there were many tables, believe me. The gentleman I sat next to was so polite and nice and had a deep voice and friendly eyes, was introduced as a former woman physical education teacher now a man. Back in the late 70s that was a bit more unusual than in todays’ social climate. I remember a woman judge sitting to the other side of me.
This party, in 1978, was just days after Supervisor Dan White assassinated Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. So the luncheon got off to a somber start, but picked up as food and wine was delivered to the tables.
It was during this party that I spoke for a while with Eldridge Cleaver, Bill Graham (the rock promoter) and Dr. Rollo May, among others that I no longer remember. I told Bill Graham that I had a son who played the drums and how did he think I should support his desire to become a professional? “Tell him to quit,” was his advice.
Eldridge Cleaver and I spoke a bit about fashion, after he first assured himself that I was not a news reporter.(Little did he know that he was talking to a future news reporter). Cleaver had just made some news about his belief that to beat his wife was his right, in order to discipline her. We exchanged phone numbers. Later, one of my sons told me that a few days earlier a man by the name of Eldridge called and he forgot to tell me. That was probably my saving grace because when I learned what his fashions were about, I wouldn’t have wanted to get involved.
I found Shirley Radl, author of Mother’s Day is Over, in the crowd. I met at the first Christmas party, and she became someone I kept as a casual friend for a few years after. She was quiet and shy, and because of that, with her understanding of shyness, she went on to author a book about that subject. We shared a taxi to the train station and I don’t remember where I got off the train, but I believe I had a car parked somewhere by a bus station near the train station. I do remember it wasn’t as difficult as the first time.
So, these are the memories of my time mingling with San Francisco folks and they are good memories, for which I have been ever grateful to Pat.
Thinking back now, I think there was another party in between, but where that took place is lost. Too much life in between to remember!